Present Tense

The “New Normal”…..

dadI’m struggling to accept my dad’s death. I know that’s normal, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Loss is part of our human condition and we all have to accept it in our own time.

He died suddenly about 2 and a half weeks ago and it’s been such a whirlwind of wrapping my mom in warmth and security and working to get her out of the house and into an assisted living facility that I haven’t had any time to really grieve or mourn my dad’s absence.

I don’t feel guilt for that; it’s absolutely what my dad would have wanted of us. He was completely committed to my mother and once said that when she died, he wanted to die the next day. The best laid plans, right?

He was taking care of business right up until the moment he died doing lawn work in the back yard and since he raised 4 competent, pragmatic children we knew that he would expect us to step up and take care of the business at hand. So, we did.

Now, I’m thinking about him; about how I can never again pick up the phone to commiserate about our miserable Detroit Lions. My husband can’t call him for apple growing advice or get his opinion on fixing our crooked screen door. During the chaos and bustle immediately after his death, his absence was noted, but now it’s settling over me and I’m feeling the finality of his death.

I started writing this blog several years ago as I began my journey to learn to overcome bad habits, non-productive worries and ultimately let go of my need to control everything. I’ve come a long way on that path and I think that my progress helped immensely in the past few weeks. But now, how do you let go of your dad?

I feel like if I do that, he’s really gone; like a puff of smoke, he will dissipate and no longer be real and that makes me feel awful. But, I also know that I have to allow the realness of his death to sink in. Yes, there are many happy and funny memories, but he’s not here and that feels like part of me has vanished as well.

My dad was over 93 years old and from all appearances, strong and healthy. It almost seems like when someone lives that long,you start to think that maybe they’ll never go. We all marveled as my parents lived into their 80s and late 80s and then into their 90s. I’ve waited so long for the call that one of them was ill or dead, that when it came, I couldn’t grasp that it actually happened. My dad, in particular seemed immortal.

So, now we learn to live with what people call the ‘new normal’, which is code for ‘this situation sucks, but you’ll have to accept and adapt’. And that’s the truth. All of us do it everyday and sometimes it’s a huge sea-change to your normal and sometimes it’s a minor zig zag.

My struggles are no different than anyone else’s. It’s life. It’s why we all have to learn to let go of our fantasies that life can ever be anything other than random and painful. As the Buddhists teach us, we all suffer together as part of the human race. We lose everything that is dear to us and we all die. It’s so obvious and true and yet, we fight it because we hope it can be different. It can’t.

I will hold my dad in my heart and my mind and love him that way. I will look at the faces of my siblings, nieces and nephews and see him in them. So many of us have his eyes and his silly sense of humor. We all love ice cream and pie.

He was able to see our little farm last fall and we have some of his tools and implements that will help us nurture and foster our land and our crops. He hated to see anything go to waste and we will honor him as we plant and harvest and care for my mom. We’re okay dad; you did good.

April 27, 2014 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

My Year of Living Honestly

I’m not much of a rear-view mirror gal, but I think it’s healthy at the end of the year to sit quietly and allow the last 365 days to settle around you like a nice, fluffy layer of snow or a scratchy, irritating barbed wire fence.  If we figure out the theme of the year just lived, maybe it can teach us something for 2013.

2012 was a good year for me; for us, in our little nuclear family of husband, wife and two dogs.  2012 was my year of living honestly. I haven’t had a whole lot of those since I grew up.  I’ve had years of lying to myself or deluding myself or self-medicating myself or just flat-out, not paying attention.  I’ve even had a few where I was deliriously happy.  But, completely honest?  Not so much.

This was the year that I challenged many of my long-held ‘core beliefs’ about politics.  The year I stopped drinking the Kool-Aid and started looking for the truth that underlies all of the spin and manipulation of the two political parties.  It was shocking, painful, humiliating and in the end, freeing.  The realization that you don’t have to be ‘right’; that you don’t have to fight to the death for your side.  Pure liberation.

2012 was the year that I realized that my radio persona had bled so much into my personal life that I had lost track of ‘me’.  What’s funny and entertaining  4 hours a day on a morning radio show, isn’t quite so charming the other 20 hours.  That the professional necessity of always having to have something to say about everything is fake and tedious.  That real life dictates that one listen, learn and absorb, rather than spew.

This was also the year that I admitted that family is important and that I miss mine; terribly.  I ran out the door at 19 and never looked back.  I couldn’t wait to be on my own and proximity to my family was not a priority…at all.  Now, it is.

In May, I spontaneously bought a 10 acre farm in northern Michigan, even though I live and work in Colorado.  Once I caught my breath, I had to figure out why I jumped in.  I’m financially conservative and measured when it comes to buying something as simple as a new coffee maker and yet, I bought a second home 1600 miles away from the first one, in a weekend.

That was me speaking up.  The me that has always wanted to live near the water; the me that misses family and ‘home’.  The me that has been buried under my ego and money and career aspirations for many years.  The me that is truly, me.

So, here we go.  Every day is another chance, but there is something about starting a brand new year.  It’s like when you were a kid in elementary school and your teacher gave you a nice, clean sheet of paper and a box of crayons.  You almost didn’t want to spoil that clean sheet, but alas, nothing is created if the sheet is left clean.

What will 2013 be for you?  You don’t have to decide ahead of time.  I didn’t one year ago.  In fact, just take the first step on the path and that could be as simple as vowing to open up to the newness of a new sheet of clean, unspoiled paper.  Get out your crayons……

December 30, 2012 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Dear Future: Leave me alone…

 

I was recently cruising at 30,000 feet on my way to Traverse City where we hope to eventually start the next phase of our life and I jotted down some of my thoughts as I headed to our new farm house.  Stream of consciousness; no editing.  I learn more that way….

While talking to a neighbor the other day, she asked me if I ever regretted building the house in Fraser and without one second’s hesitation, I told her no.  How many people can live in such a beautiful place just a few miles from a fabulous ski resort?

In a place where moose roam the neighborhood and the summers are full of glorious sunshine and wild flowers.

It’s a place where people look out for each other, due to the sparse population and the difficult terrain and weather.  I’m so grateful for where we live and for the past 13 years in Colorado.

As I rode the airport shuttle up and over the pass answering questions about our magical home from the visitors sharing the van, I had such a pang of sadness.  How do you leave such a place?

Why do you leave such a place?  My fantasy of living in northern Michigan is still just that; a fantasy.  I’m on my way to a home and homestead that I don’t know.  I’ve spent much more time there emotionally than physically, so I guess the next 10 days will be a step toward confirming or moderating that fantasy.

I’ve already mentally moved in and yet, I barely know how to get there or where the property lines are.  What is going on?

I have a tendency to live in the future; whether it’s my restless mind that can’t wait until my 20 minute meditation is up or my visualization of a future that features a new home 1500 miles away.  I have no idea why I do that and I’ve fought mightily not to, but  I suppose there is some comfort in believing I have a future to look forward to.

Some call it ‘wishing your life away’ and maybe that’s why I have found that my memories of the past 20 or 30 years are so opaque.  They almost seem like they are the memories of another person.  Was that really me?

Is it because in the midst of living today, I’m constantly projecting forward?  How do you imprint memories if you aren’t fully ‘there’, living them?

So, here I am flying toward what I envision as my future, yet I’m feeling some pangs of something.  Regret? Sadness?  I don’t live in the past, but it dawns on me that in terms of days, months and years, my past outweighs my future and that imbalance between past and future will only continue to grow.

So, the question is:  do I need to choose my next move carefully or with reckless abandon?

I’m a thinker and a planner and yet I’m flying toward a second home that I spent less than an hour touring before I bought it.  My reptilian mind or my inner compulsive teenager took over for a reason, so there must be a lesson here.

I’ll be keeping my eyes wide open for the next 10 days.

July 17, 2012 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Yin vs Yang

I’m conflicted.  Who isn’t, right?  There is a rumble going on between my inner hippie and my inner advocate.  At this point, the IH is winning.  The problem is, the IH wants to pick up and move to Traverse City, Michigan and live on a lake or a few acres that we can farm.  At the moment, that is somewhat impractical.

My inner advocate can live anywhere and in fact, with the internet at my fingertips, can assert herself constantly (as she is doing right now, writing this blog).  She worries and frets about current events, politics, the human condition, religious hypocrites, gay marriage, intrusive government and animal welfare.  She rants, writes, yaps on the radio and has been the dominant feature of my persona for years.  But, I can feel her shrinking, bit by bit, day by day.

It’s funny, but many women my age are just getting to know their inner advocate and allowing her to have a voice.  They’re speaking up, getting informed and involved and starting to finally ‘call bullshit’ on what they don’t like.  My personality and media career have always allowed and encouraged me to be outspoken and opinionated; in fact it’s been a requirement for many years.  Maybe it’s time for my IA to retire or at least, ratchet back to part-time status.

My inner hippie is my more holistic, spiritual side that has been somewhat dormant for most of my life, other than an occasional flutter here and there.  Now that she’s starting to flower, it’s invigorating and I feel like she needs room to grow. I suppose that the hippie and advocate can live side by side in harmony, but balance is something that I’ve never quite mastered.  I’m kind of an all or nothing gal; which has served me well professionally and in my quest for learning and knowledge, but it is probably also responsible for some of my failures.  The old saw,  “everything in moderation” isn’t even in my lexicon.

One way to handle this is to allow the inner advocate to advocate for a kinder, gentler, healthier lifestyle. I’ve noticed that more and more of my posts and opinions are moving in that direction.  My political views are moderating, softening a bit .  I no longer see things in black and white, Republican vs. Democrat terms.  My tribe vs. the other tribe.  The key is for all of us to quit relying on politicians to solve our problems, particularly since it’s obvious that they can’t and they won’t.  It’s time for a truce and to realize that each and every one of us is responsible for our own happiness and success, however you define that.

My inner hippie is kinder and more forgiving than my inner advocate; she is more willing to see the other side of an argument, more open to other viewpoints.  She believes that much of modern life, while convenient, isn’t always better or healthier or more fulfilling.  If I allow her to blossom and grow, then I think that she’ll have a positive effect on my inner advocate.  Perhaps they will meld into a more productive and evolved ‘me’.

So, the battle rages for now.  I’m back to daily meditation and gentler work-outs.  I’m eating whole, organic foods, listening to my body, getting enough sleep. The inner hippie and inner advocate will eventually work things out and move forward in harmony.  Mind follows body or body follows mind?  To be continued……

February 25, 2012 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , | 8 Comments

   

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